Tuesday, June 28, 2016


"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) organized in 1891. The DRT ladies famously labored to preserve the Alamo as a Texas shrine, and for a century and a quarter they have resolutely worked to preserve Texas traditions. Today there are approximately 7,000 members in 106 chapters statewide, and DRT headquarters are in Austin. Male counterparts founded the Sons of the Republic of Texas in 1893. SRT offices are in Bay City, and members are deeply patriotic and highly knowledgeable about Texas history. I am proud to be an SRT member, and during four years as State Historian it has been a rich pleasure to provide programs for numerous DRT and SRT chapters around the Lone Star State.

Historic Landmark Inn
Not until I commenced duties as State Historian, however, did I become aware of the CRT – Children of the Republic of Texas. Daughters of the Republic of Texas in 1929 promoted and assumed sponsorship of CRT chapters, intending to nourish a love of Texas history in the young Texans who are not yet old enough to join the DRT or the SRT. Last year at the Battle of Medina anniversary celebration, I met an entire family whose father is a soldado re-enactor and whose mother supervises their three children in CRT activities and projects.

One wing of the picturesque Alsace Hotel
By that time I learned that Sarah Funderburk of Carthage High School would spend her senior year, 2015-16, as President General of the CRT. Sarah’s mother, Kim Hedges Funderburk, is a former student of mine, and her mother, Liz Hedges, was a longtime faculty colleague of mine at Panola College. Kim and Liz both were active in supporting Sarah’s CRT career, as well as that of Abagail Funderburk, younger sister of Sarah. Last year Liz was voted “CRT Grandmother of the Year,” and this year she serves as CRT Registrar.

Business meeting
Several months ago I happily accepted an invitation to be lunch speaker at the 2016 CRT Convention, scheduled for Castroville on Friday and Saturday, June 24 and 25. Twice per summer for 20 years I brought my Traveling Texas History Classes to Castroville, with its unique architecture, including the historic Landmark Inn. Karon and I looked forward to re-visiting an excellent restaurant and a superb bakery.

President General Sarah Funderburk and
President General-Elect Boone Denton
All Friday CRT events and entertainment - including the Great Medina Duck Race – were held at the picturesque Landmark Inn, and when we reached Castroville we looked in the on the fun. Saturday activities were conducted at the Hotel Alsace, perched on a hill with a superb view. There were business meetings and award sessions, and at mid-day there was a break for a delicious catered meal.

At the head table the State Historian was seated between Dr. Betty Edwards, DRT President General, and Bob Steakley, SRT President General. It had been my pleasure previously to meet both President General Edwards and President General Steakley, and their presence underscored the importance of CRT to both the DRT and the SRT. It also was my honor to meet Boone Denton, an impressive young man from Belton who was elected CRT President General for 2016-17.

Receiving a gift from President
General Funderburk
Aided by advice from Liz Hedges, I chose a program about a popular and fascinating icon, the cowboy. I have a large number of props for this program, and I demonstrated the role of the Spanish and Mexicans in passing the cattle culture to Anglo Texans. It is a fast-moving program, with a lot of anecdotes and humor and interesting artifacts. I enjoyed a nice rapport with the youthful audience, and I hope I showed them that history – especially Texas history – can be fun as well as compelling.
With SRT President General Bob Steakley

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